What is the One Habit you can integrate into your life, such that by doing it, all other habits will become easier to carry out?
Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question to identify the one habit that gives me the greatest returns. The one that holds all other habits together.
I have a couple of habits I consider important.
Praying is one of them. It gives me purpose, meaning, and strength.
Reading is another one. To Keep learning is vital to me.
Exercising. It renews my energy, betters my mood, and helps me get things done.
These are my keystone habits.
The idea of keystone habits was first introduced in Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit”.
To understand what is a keystone habit, Duhigg gives an example:
“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”
That’s how important Keystone habits are – they set off a chain reaction, leading to other positive behavior changes.
But what if you had to pick only one habit. The keystone of your keystone habits. The first piece of a domino chain. What would it be for you?
The Weekly Review
The first time I read about ‘The Weekly Review’ was in “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie.
The author quotes a successful financier man who developed a highly efficient system for self-improvement.
“I devoted a part of each Saturday evening to the illuminating process of self-examination and review and appraisal. After dinner, I went off by myself, opened my engagement book and thought over all the interviews, discussions and meetings that had taken place during the week. I ask myself:
‘What mistakes did I make that time?’
‘What did I do that was right – and in what way could I have improved my performance?’
‘What lessons can I learn from that experience?’
This system of self-analysis, self-education, continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.”
I made this man’s habit mine. It helps me, among other things:
- Keep in check my other keystone habits (praying, reading, exercising).
- See how well I’m implementing new habits.
- Notice any bad habits I start developing and work on them before it’s too late.
My ‘One Habit’ that holds all other habits together and makes my life better is ‘The Weekly Review’.
1. What mistakes did I make that time?
I consider a mistake one of the two things:
- A behavior or action I do that harm me or harm others.
- An action that I perform poorly.
For example, I had a period when I started overeating regularly. So, I wanted to know why.
Am I stressed? If yes, what’s the source of my stress? Can I remove it?
Another time, I was feeling absent in my prayers.
I wanted to understand why and worked on being more connected in my prayers.
We are humans. We can slack at any time.
This system can help you catch up yourself before it becomes too hard to do so.
2. What did I do that was right – and in what way could I have improved my performance?
Accountability is important. So, it is to be fair to yourself.
If you stuck to your habits, you need to acknowledge that. Pat yourself on the back.
3. What lessons can I learn from that experience?
Here’s a good opportunity to recognize the habits that bring you results and max out on them. And the ones that perform poorly and adjust or get rid of them.
Why it is important to identify your One Habit?
The Domino effect
The domino effect is a chain reaction – the knockdown of the first domino causes all the ones that stand in its path to fall.
When it comes to habits, the domino effect refers to the change in other behaviors provoked by an initial change of one behavior.
In other words, all you need to live a better life and become the person you want to be is to change one behavior, to focus on one habit.
The domino effect works the other way as well – one bad habit can create a cascade of bad habits and make your life miserable.
There is more to the domino effect. The most common chain reaction we know is when dominos of the same size fall one after another.
But there is another astonishing fact – a domino can knock over another domino that is one and half times larger.
If you underestimate the impact one little habit can have, watch the video below.
What that means is the tiniest change in one behavior can have a bigger effect than you could imagine.
That’s good news.
Improving our life doesn’t have to be a struggle. It can start by simply adopting one tiny habit.
How to identify your one habit?
1. Do some experimentation
For a maximum effect, it is better to knock down the first domino of a chain.
But you can still have an effect anywhere along the chain, as long as you don’t knock down the last domino.
What I mean is, you don’t have to get it right from the first try.
Keep experimenting to find the one habit that matches the first domino of a chain.
But even if you don’t, you will still get benefits from the good habits you’re trying to implement.
Trust the process and the results will follow. You will still be ahead of everyone who’s not trying.
2. Choose a habit that supports your long-term goal
No matter what you want to achieve or who you want to become, set a plan to reach your long-term goal.
A bad plan is better than no plan. Even if your end goal is not totally clear, you create momentum.
Break down your long-term goal into small steps. Choose the habit that will help you with each step.
If you want to be your own boss, but you know nothing about building a business, developing the habit of reading can support you in your end goal. You will learn how to start and what mistakes to avoid.
Being patient is the key. As Tony Robbins said:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and they underestimate what they can do in two or three decades.”
Some habits worth considering
Besides the classical habits of praying, reading, exercising, and keeping a journal, you might also be interested in one of these:
1. The indistractable habit
Time is the most precious asset, especially nowadays.
For many people, distractions are hard to overcome.
Time-wasting move us away from what we really want.
There is a correlation between how you spend your time and what you achieve.
The more distracted you are, the furthest your goals become.
Mastering this habit will allow you to be productive, develop your focus, and increase your chances to reach your goals.
2. The lifelong learning habit
It’s a tragedy that many of us stop learning as we get older.
Even if our brain starts becoming lazy by the age of 25, researches show we can grow new neurons at any age.
One of the things people regret the most before they die is not live up to their full potential.
I don’t believe we can reach our full potential by the age of 25.
Continuous learning allows us to discover ourselves and develop our gifts.
I was certainly one of those who stopped learning after university.
Today, I am much more excited about what I’m learning because it’s tailored to my needs.
I’ve got to choose what, how, when, and where to learn. It’s happiness!
(You can check out the article “The obstacles to reading books and how to overcome them”)
3. The simplifying habit
Bruce Lee once said:
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
Being able to eliminate non-essentials is art.
It requires discipline and a certain clarity about what we want out of life.
Declutter your life so you can focus on the few things that are meaningful and flush away the trivial.
There is an urge today to manage ourselves.
We live in unprecedented times- we are exposed to too many choices.
We are tempted to add more and more, to have a thousand priorities, and to believe that everything is important.
It is not true. Only a few things are.
Only a few things will give a sense of joy, pride, and satisfaction.
Eliminating the non-essentials means having more time and energy for what is important.
Simplifying is the way to success.
Working on finding your one habit is a smart strategy.
It means less effort for maximum reward. It’s a good deal.
Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is based on the same concept.
There are imbalances between efforts and rewards.
The generalization of this principle became:
“80% of results will come just from 20% of the action”.
You don’t need a thousand habits.
Few are enough to put your life on the path of success.
If you can’t figure out your one habit, make a shortlist of the habits you think you need, and just try them.
In the end, doing is more important than knowledge.
MORE ARTICLES ON HABITS
- Why Habits Are Important to Change Your Life
- Winning Over the Little Voice in Your Head
- The Secret for Building Good Habits that Last
- Distractions are about Energy (so are Starting Good Habits)
- How to Effectively Break Bad Habits and Enjoy Yourself (part1)
- How to Effectively Break Bad Habits and Enjoy Yourself (part 2)